If you pop into Java and Scoop expecting to find only a selection of coffees and ice creams, owner Tracy Brophy has a pleasant surprise for you. Despite the business’s leading name, Java and Scoop in Forest, Ont., has much, much more to offer. “My original goal in purchasing Java and Scoop was to educate people about Galactosemia while offering gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian options,” Tracy says.
Tracy’s youngest son, 11-year-old Grayson, has Galactosemia, which puts him at risk if he ingests the wrong kinds of food. With that in mind, Tracy – who has a background in photography and with the auxiliary OPP – opened her own home bakery, Grayson’s Bread Box. Unfortunately, when Tracy requested a health inspection, she was informed that it is illegal in Ontario to operate a home bakery. “I was doing a small bakery out of my house and things were going very well. I was very disappointed to have to shut it down, but when the opportunity to purchase Java and Scoops came up in 2019, we decided to go for it.”
With no real restaurant experience, Tracy had to learn on the job. “It was all going very well. We were open for a year and a few months when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.” They were forced to improvise, making a takeout window in her front door until they were able to open their patio. “With lockdowns, we had to close again and went back to the takeout door again. It’s nice now that things are opening up and people can come in again. I learned that you always have to be on your toes and coming up with new ideas to generate business to get the bills paid. We were successful in doing that and this past summer we won top business and top restaurant in Lambton County.”Java and Scoops does indeed offer a selection of specialty coffees and old-fashioned ice cream, but it is best known for its scrumptious dishes such as its Dorito Taco Salad, Taco Grilled Cheese Sandwich and its mouth-watering Classic Reuben Star Sandwich. “The Reuben is one of our best sellers. People will drive from London an hour away to get one. It is marble rye with salsa dressing, four ounces of Montreal smoked meat, sauerkraut, and garlic butter.”
When Tracy, who is assisted at Java and Scoops by her husband, Joe, bought the assets of Java and Scoop, she made the decision to retain the name of the business. She is considering one-day rebranding and renaming the restaurant. “It implies ice cream and coffee where I am more of a bistro and it is my food that attracts people." Nevertheless, Tracy likes the direction Java and Scoops is going. “I am the kind of person who needs to see results in my work, so winning the awards says to me that what we are doing is worth it.”